After stints with a folk duo, then a bluegrass group, Chaz Hearne decided to go the solo route. And it’s a good thing, because he doesn’t seem to quite fit either of those categories, although his style is extending the boundaries of both.
If that sounds a bit confusing, consider the premise of his debut solo effort, straight from the source himself: “The Legend of Core Dynamo is a political album that tackles some heavy subject matter through the lens of folk songs and comic book characters. Core Dynamo is supposed to stand for an incorruptible leader but people have lost faith in authority.” (It’s appropriate now to mention that Hearne wrote the album while living in Chicago…)
As it turns out, the music is not confusing nor corrupt. It is, however, unconventional. Hearne is learned in guitar, banjo and piano and you will hear all three wielded to great effect, along with vocals that are easy to rally behind.
As far as the tracks go, the song Core Dynamo unmistakably evokes a 60’s/70’s folk movement, while The Legend is neither folk nor bluegrass and includes an anthem-like rock guitar solo. One brings more of the traditional bluegrass feel but, again, leans into something different. Bigger. (There’s even a little Grateful Dead in there.)
Disjointed? Perhaps a little. Hearne seems to be at his best when pushing his folk and bluegrass roots to the edges, without crossing over completely. But ultimately, The Legend of Core Dynamo is everything a solo album should be—a one-of-a-kind composition built on one’s myriad of experiences and influences. And it’s really good.